Town Hall in New York, NY
The Lives of the Cowboys
SS (ANNC): The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Hoof Flashers: flashing lights that go on your horse’s hooves to scare off rattlesnakes. And now: The Lives of the Cowboys.
(THEATER HUBBUB, OFF)
GK: Gotta kinda pinch myself, Dusty. Look at us. All dressed up as cowboys and we’re on the Broadway stage.
TR: Never knew any cowboys who wore clothes this clean-----
GK: There we were sitting in the coffeeshop on 43rd Street and she walks up and says, “I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy” and next thing we knew we were over here rehearsing.
TR: Sitting around on our butts is more like it.
GK: Here we go---- sit up----- listen-----
(BRISK HARD FOOTSTEPS AND STOP)
FN: Okay we’re back, people! Act II, scene, I, this is the big number right after intermission ----- we’re on Main Street and the sheriff walks down the street looking for the drifter who just rode into town and the dance-hall gal is waiting there ----- and remember, we do have livestock in this scene so let’s pay attention ------ and you-----the one in the big hat------ what’s your name?
FN: Lefty, you’re going to stride downstage through that flock of chickens, okay?
FN: Where’s my chicken handler?
FN: Thank you. And we want those chickens to be crossing as he comes striding so that the chickens fly up and scatter on cue as the music starts. Okay? Very important.
SS: Yes, sir.
FN: Okay. And Scarlet?
JS: Yes, sir.
FN: Pull that strap down over your shoulder, would you----
JS: You want to see some bare shoulder -----
FN: Bare shoulder. Thank you. And sort of flounce your skirt and roll your eyes as he passes you-----
JS: Okay. Like this? (BA BOOM)
FN: Not so much hip thrust.
FN: Let’s go, people. Act II, scene I, curtain up. (MUSIC)
ALL (SING): One more day in Yellow Gulch The future is fog and the past is mulch They say there’s gold in them there hills But the only gold is in the daffodils.
Here we are out in the West
Where you carry a six-gun or you feel undressed
I am the man with the star on my chest
Bad men come, I put em under arrest……
JS: What about bad women, sheriff? -----
GK: Morning, Miss Scarlet. JS: Your badge sure looks nice, sheriff. Did you know I shined it up for you last night?
GK: Please, Scarlet. There are townsfolk around.
JS: Your shirt was hanging there on the chair after you passed out and I got out of bed and put on a bathrobe and I got out my silverware polish and I made it shine. And you look sort of shinier too.
FN: Cut cut cut cut cut---Okay, the chickens were late.
SS (OFF): Sorry! (CHICKEN WRANGLING)
FN: You’ve got to control the chickens, or the chickens control you. Do I have to tell you this?!? We open in three days, people. Do you hear me? Three days! And Scarlett?
FN: Reach over and touch his badge when you’re talking to him, okay? And pull his hat down a little. Give it sort of a rakish angle.
JS: Okay. Right.
(HOOVES ON STAGE, MOO)
FN: And you---- the drifter-----
FN: I need more insouciance from you. You’re sitting on the hay bale and watching and you’re trouble ---- cause you’re in love with Scarlet. And you’re planning to knife the sheriff soon as you get the chance.
TR: Yep. I got it. (COW)
FN: Could somebody move that cow? (COW WRANGLING) That cow needs to stay in its stall. That cow is an extra. (MOO) Get the cow back in the shadows. Thank you. ---- Okay, people. Take a break. Back in two minutes, okay? It’s beautiful , let’s just try to get it right. (CROWD HUBBUB, MOVING OFF)
TR: How you doing, Lefty?
GK: Not bad.
TR: When does the show open?
GK: Your guess is as good as mine. Opening’s been put off three times already.
TR: For a show that cost $45 million dollars, it sure isn’t much, unless you like watching chickens.
(BRISK SWIFT FOOTSTEPS AND STOP)
FN: Could I have a word with you? I’m sorry, I forgot your name.
FN: Lefty, we need to get a little more pizzazz in that scene and so instead of you walking in, we’re going to fly you in----- okay?
GK: Fly me in?
FN: It’s going to become a dream sequence and there’s a comet in the sky that symbolizes rebirth and ----- anyway, you’ll come flying in over the rooftops and land beside Scarlet and the chickens will fly up in the air and you’ll sing your song. Which, by the way, we’ve rewritten.
TR (IRISH): I’m the songwriter. I’ve got the new words for you right here.
Here we are on the frontier,
The air is pure and my Mary is here.
Mountains rising and snow-capped peaks.
Gonna hit the trail in a couple of weeks. ----- I don’t remember anything in the script about me leaving town.
TR (IRISH): Oh? GK: I’m the sheriff. It’s the drifter who leaves town. And who is Mary? I don’t remember a Mary.
TR (IRISH): Oh. Right. Okay. Be right back. (FOOTSTEPS OFF)
SS (HARRIED): Hi. Can you put this on please?
GK: What is that?
SS (HARRIED): It’s a harness. Please. Just put it on. (SFX)
GK: What in the heck? (APPLYING HARNESS SFX)
SS (HARRIED): Over the arms and connect in front (CLICK) and then down and between the legs (GK SURPRISE) and there you go. (SFX SEQUENCE).
GK: It’s kinda snug.
SS (HARRIED): It’s got to be snug. We’ve lost three sheriffs because of accidents----- well, never mind. You’re gonna fly in at the beginning of the scene and land right over there and sing your song. (CLIP) There’s your wire. And at the end we’ll fly you up again and you’ll land on your horse and ride off.
GK: So I don’t just walk over to the horse and say, “Let’s ride, boys. He’s headed up toward the butte”?
SS: Nope, that’s all been changed.
GK: The horse is right there. Why not just get on the horse there in the street?
SS: Because that’s what he wants.
GK: It doesn’t make sense.
SS: Tell him that.
FN: Okay, people. We’re back now. (CROWD MURMURS) Back on Main Street. Scarlett----- places. Sheriff. What’s your name again?
FN: Lefty. Right. Scene I act II. And we want those chickens on cue. Very important.
SS: Yes, sir.
FN: We’ve got wires attached to the chickens?
SS: The chickens are all rigged, sir.
FN: I want to see the chickens go way up -----
SS: They’ll fly way up.
FN: Okay. And Scarlet?
JS: Yes, sir.
FN: Could I see more of that shoulder----
JS: You want more shoulder -----
FN: Lots more shoulder. And more of that va va voom-----
JS: Okay. Va va voom.
FN: More voom. Less va.
FN: Let’s go, people. Act II, scene I, curtain up. (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS) Cut, cut, cut------ what is it?
TR (IRISH): New words for the opener, sir.
FN: Okay, everybody. New words. Pass out the lyrics. New words. Thank you. Act II, scene 1. Curtain up
Yellow Gulch, this is our town.
Who is that drifter who is hanging around?
Look at Scarlett, la dida-----
She is attracted to men of the law.
Out west it’s a man’s world,
I’m in love with Mary what a wonderful girl.
I have a dream that I can fly
Over the rooftops up to the sky.
JS: Morning, sheriff? -----
GK: Morning, Miss Scarlet.
JS: Forget about Mary ---- remember who shined up your badge for you last night.
GK: Sorry, Scarlet. I’ve got to go. ----- I said, I’m sorry, Scarlett, I’ve got to go.
FN: HELLO!!!! THAT’S YOUR CUE. FLY HIM.
GK: HEY----- WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAA (CRASH, CRUN CH) HEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. (GLASS BREAKAGE)
SS: You okay?
GK (SINGS WEAKLY):
It is spring on this old Earth.
There goes a comet symbolizing rebirth.
Where is Mary? I’ll make her my wife.
But here comes the drifter and he has a knife.
FN: Cut. Cut cut cut cut. (CHICKENS) Get the chickens out of here.
SS: You don’t want the chickens?
FN: Where’s the songwriter?
TR (IRISH): You didn’t care for the lyric then?
FN: Get me a different songwriter!!!!
SS: The songwriters are here who wrote “Mamma Mia”-------
FN: Bring em in. Get him out of the harness. You okay? What’s your name?
FN: Clean him up.
FN: You wrote the songs for “Mamma Mia”?
FN: Can you write cowboy songs?
FN: In ten minutes?
FN: Okay. Ten minutes, people. Ten minutes. Don’t go too far. Ten minutes.
SS: The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Hoof Flashers.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).